Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Galileo's telescope reaches 400th anniversary today!

Nepal Academy of Science and Technology,NAST,Khumaltar,Lalitpur and Nepal Astronomical Society,NASO,Kathmandu jointly organized a talk programme on The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization presented by Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,founder member of NASO, to mark the 400th Anniversary of Galileo's Telescope at NAST Hall during 11:30-13:30 Hrs.

Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,founder member of NASO, presenting a talk on The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization at NAST on 25th August,2009 to mark 400th Anniversary of Galileo's Telescope.

Photo:participants paying attention to the talk to get more insight about Nepalese Astronomy and Civilization.

It is 400 years since Galileo Galilei demonstrated his telescope, which would lead him to make new astronomical observations While many people have been loudly celebrating this year's double commemoration of 200 years since Charles Darwin's birth and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, another scientific anniversary has crept up relatively quietly, marking an event which arguably changed human thought and the way we see ourselves even more irrevocably.

Galileo's telescope helped the astronomer to learn more about our solar system. This is a reconstruction of the telescope. Photograph: Jim Sugar/Corbis(Source:gardian.co.uk)

Exactly 400 years ago today, on 25 August 1609, the Italian astronomer and philosopher Galilei Galileo showed Venetian merchants his new creation, a telescope – the instrument that was to bring him both scientific immortality and, more immediately, a whole lot of trouble.

Monday, August 24, 2009


-By Rishi Shah & Sudeep Neupane

A telescope is a unique astronomical instrument that has been invented cleverly to observe and study remote objects. Its invention was subjected to sequence of events that cannot be assigned to an exact time or place. There are several written references to telescopic gadgets in ancient times, but no solid evidence as to their construction and use could be determined and verified. After the Phoenicians with enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean had discovered glass around 3500 BC, while cooking on sand, it took about five thousand years for glass to be shaped into lens for the telescope. Historically since avid spectacle (eyeglass) maker Hans Lippershey (1570-1619) had probably assembled the first practically functioning telescope, he is often credited with its invention. He had allegedly applied for patent for exclusive manufacturing of telescopes in 1608, but was denied, based on the argument that the devices were already known to other parties. However, Lippershey was hired as telescope maker to the State of Zeeland which is now a province in Holland.

The telescope was introduced to astronomy in 1609 by the great Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). He became the first man to peer at the stars, phases of planet Venus and moon’s craters and watched four awesomely fascinating large moons of Jupiter along with arcane rings of Saturn. He revealed the sunspots and many other breath-taking entities of our universe. Galileo’s telescope was similar to a pair of opera glasses which applied an arrangement of glass lenses to magnify objects. It provided limited magnification of up to thirty times within uneasily narrow field of view. Galileo’s support for Copernicus’ heliocentric postulation prompted serious conflict with Catholic Church and caused him troubles. In 1704, the famous British genius astronomer Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727) improved the design and utilized telescopes intensively for astronomical purposes. He introduced innovative concept in telescope design whereby instead of glass lenses, a curved mirror was exploited to gather light and reflect it back to a point of focus. This reflecting mirror acted like a light-collecting bucket (bigger the bucket, the more light could be accumulated). The reflector telescope opened the door for magnifying heavenly images millions of times. He produced the first reflecting telescope which is dubbed as Newtonian reflector. Telescope making has evolved as an extraordinary discipline ever since.

The application of achromatic lens in 1733 partially corrected color aberrations (focusing failure) present in the simple lens and enabled the construction of shorter and more functional refracting telescopes. In reflecting telescopes, though not limited by the color problems as seen in refractors, the mirrors were improved by silver or aluminum coating. Refractor telescope can possess huge sizes like the one at Yerkes Observatory, Wisconsin, USA (circa 102 centimeter lens diameter with 19.4 meters focal length). The biggest reflecting telescopes currently boast of objectives surpassing ten meters like the modern Gran Telescopio Canaris (10.4 meters) in Canary Islands, Spain and the Large Binocular Telescope (11.7 meters) in Arizona, USA. In catadioptric telescopes mirrors are combined with lenses to form captivating images.

Telescopes can be classified under distinct categories with respect to their operation in peculiar electromagnetic radiation. Optical and radio telescopes are extensively used in astronomy. High energy particle telescopes and gravitational wave telescopes carry out specialized observational assignments. Except terrestrial telescopes operating in broad wavelength range, National Aeronautics and. Space Administration (NASA), Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have been exploring universe through different types of space telescopes. Compton Gamma Ray (already decommissioned) and Chandra X-Ray telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are NASA’s vital missions in the history of space telescope. HST is marvelously versatile iconic and comparatively expensive space telescope which has been divulging secrets and mysteries of universe since 1990. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is being designated as the successor to HST. JWST would scrutinize space in infrared spectrum. ESA has also ambitiously lifted-off Hershel Space Observatory and Planck Telescope into space.

Besides the sophisticated telescopes for astronomers, homemade telescopes have contributed substantially for the betterment of astronomy activities. The advent of amateurs in building telescopes for their own enjoyment and education has come into prominence in the 20th century. The types of telescopes that they build vary widely from very modest to beguiling ones including refractors, Schmidt Cassegrains and Maksutovs.

The most important components of telescope are the optics, primary and secondary mirrors. When building a telescope its mirror has to be painstakingly ground and polished to an extremely accurate shape (usually paraboloid) although telescopes with high focal ratios could adhere to spherical mirrors.

Telescopes can offer the perplex beauty and fascination of our cosmos. They could couple us together with those queer celestial bodies that are lying eons of light-years away and connect us to their mind-boggling movements. Telescope making could emphatically stress the significance in creating awareness in astronomy in our society. Additionally telescopes help us to satisfy our personal interest for logical information on baffling phenomena and conundrums that are related to our evolution of life on earth. Since people around the globe are celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 with the slogan the universe is yours to discover, we too could attempt to comprehend our puzzling universe and our Solar System through our own handmade telescopes.

Source:The Rising Nepal,National English Daily,Monday,24th August,2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nepal Advocates Asian Contribution to the history of Astronomy in Astronomy and Civilization,Budapest,Hungary on 10th August,2009

Photo: Founder member Suresh Bhattarai with Prof. Chandra Wikramasinghe,Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology,UK and he was a student and collaborator of Sir Fred Hoyle whose joint work on the infrared spectra of interstellar grains led to developing the modern theory of panspermia.

Photo:Founder Member Suresh Bhattarai with Zoltan Toth,Bhakti Vedanta College,Budapest,Hungary.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Prof. Menas Kafatos,Chapman University,Orange,California, USA.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Prof.Subhash Kak,Oklahoma State University,USA.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Atilla Grandpierre of Konkoly Observatory.He was Co-chair of the Symposium.

Photo:Prof. Norman D. Cook,Kansai University,Oshaka,Japan with Triadic Insights in Astronomy,Art and Music.

Photo: Alice Mary Williamson,London with The Contribution of Musical Theory to an Ancient Chinese Concept of the Universe.

Photo:Budapest as seen from the National park at Buda Hill.River Duna is in the middle of the photo as a white line.

Photo: Konkoly Observatory which was established in 1871 A.D.

Photo:Banquet Dinner at FONO with Hungarian Dance and Music.

Photo:Prof. Stephen Wolfram explaining Computational Universe during Video Conference.

photo: Laszlo G. Puskas,Hungary, with his Nanobionts and the size limit of life.

Photo: Atilla Grandpierre,Hungary, with On the first principle of biology and its significance for the unification of natural sciences,scientific world picture,religion,art and the future of mankind.

Photo: Prof. Menas Kafatos,USA, with his Quanta and the Conscious Universe.

Photo: Prof. Paul Davies,USA,with Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?

Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder member of NASO,Nepal, with The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization.

Photo:Kalman Bela with Cathedral as Observatories: Meridianae in Italy.

Photo: Zoltan Toth,Hungary, with Interesting parallels between ancient Vedic descriptions of the universe and modern cosmological theories.

Photo:Matyas Mero,Hungary, with User's Guide to the Universe and consequences of misuse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jupiter Opposition On 14th August, 2009

Jupiter reaches opposition on August 14th, 22:55 hours local time (17:10 GMT/UT) where it will be 4.0278 Astronomical Units (AU) from Earth. AU is the mean distance between Earth and Sun and measures circa 150 million kilometers.

In this very day Jupiter, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line and Jupiter and the Sun are 180° apart from our viewing location on earth which means that Jupiter rises in the East when the Sun sets in the West, and sets in the West when the Sun rises in the East. At or near opposition, Earth comes closest to Jupiter for the year, and Jupiter, in turn, shines most brightly in our sky.

Jupiter reaches opposition to the Sun every 398.9 days on average, or about 33½ days later in each successive year. The next opposition of Jupiter is on September 21st 2010.

Jupiter is very easy to find during this August, as it is the brightest “star” in the evening sky, shining brilliantly. It rises in the East just after sunset and is overhead at around midnight. Night sky lovers could enjoy the beautiful opportunity to observe the Jupiter at Opposition on this very night of 14th August in the constellation Capricorns passing through the ecliptic (path of sun and other planets) until the sunrise in next morning if weather permits. Otherwise the entire month of august is favorable time to watch Jupiter’s beauty in the night sky.

What is Opposition?
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are superior planets (revolves around the Sun in an orbit further away from the Sun than the Earth) in the Solar System. When a superior planet, the Earth and the Sun align in a straight line with the Earth in between, it is known as opposition. When the superior planet and the Earth lie on the opposite sides of the Sun, it is known as conjunction. During opposition, the superior planet will be closest to the Earth and it would be a suitable time for observing the superior planet.

NASO meets Goldengate Graduates on 10th August 2009